As the pandemic worsens, it is becoming increasingly clear that comprehensive vaccination is essential to contain it. Physical distancing, universal face covering, and frequent hand washing are effective, but not easy. And of course these measures will not work if they are not followed.
The rapid development of mRNA and other vaccines for the prevention of COVID-19 is therefore welcome – some say miraculous – news. But while many people are looking for a vaccine, others hesitate.
Start Here: Are These Vaccines Safe and Effective?
It is, of course, questionable whether brand new vaccines against a novel coronavirus that has been developed at unprecedented speed are effective and safe. Let’s review some of our findings.
The overall effectiveness was reported in the range of 70% to 95%. For example, this is way above the average effectiveness of the flu vaccine.
- A Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine study of nearly 44,000 volunteers found the vaccination to be 95% effective. This vaccine is approved for use in the United States.
- A Moderna vaccine study involving more than 30,000 volunteers found 94% effectiveness. This vaccine is approved for use in the United States.
- An AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine study showed an average effectiveness of 70% at the full dose, but even better results (up to 90%) at the lower dose. This vaccine is approved for use in the UK, but not the US.
- In a press release, Johnson and Johnson announced an overall effectiveness of 66% in preventing moderate to severe COVID-19. The company has applied for an emergency permit in the United States.
Not only do these vaccines appear to reduce your risk of developing COVID-19, but they also appear to reduce the risk of serious illnesses.
What are the most common side effects of COVID vaccines?
In large clinical trials, most of the side effects were minor. When side effects occur, they usually only last a few days. One side effect or reaction isn’t necessarily all bad, by the way. This can indicate that the body is building up protection against the virus.
The four vaccines listed above have common side effects
- Pain at the injection site
- painful, swollen lymph nodes in the arm that the vaccine was injected into
- a headache
- Muscle or joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fever or chills.
What else should I know about possible side effects?
- Severe allergic reactions. Rarely, a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis can occur, most commonly in people known to have had severe vaccination reactions in the past. The CDC estimates that anaphylaxis occurs in 11 cases per million doses in people receiving the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine. The signs are difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and neck, rash, and low blood pressure. It usually occurs soon after you have been vaccinated and can be treated with epinephrine (like an EpiPen). For this reason, people are observed for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine with adrenaline on hand.
- Inexplicable deaths. A recent report of 23 deaths among elderly vaccine recipients in Norway raised understandable safety concerns about the new COVID-19 vaccines. However, more research is needed to determine whether these deaths are related to the vaccines or represent an expected number of deaths in frail individuals who may already have had a limited life expectancy.
Two misconceptions about vaccines push back
It is normal to be careful with new treatments. However, two common misconceptions can prevent people from receiving the COVID vaccine.
- Health problems have been incorrectly attributed to the vaccine. If health problems develop soon after vaccination, people blame the vaccine. However, cancer, strokes, heart attacks, blood disorders and rare diseases occurred before the pandemic and of course will continue to do so. Many people are expected to develop such health problems whether or not they are vaccinated. When thorough research reveals that certain health problems are occurring at the on higher than normal Rate could be the vaccine to blame. If not, it’s more of an unfortunate accident unrelated to the vaccine.
For example, rare cases of Bell’s palsy and other neurological disorders have been reported following a COVID vaccination. However, so far there is no clear indication that the vaccine played a role. Similarly, a fatal blood disorder that a Florida doctor suffered from two weeks after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine was cause for concern that it was triggered by the vaccine. This condition did not occur in tens of thousands of subjects in clinical trials, so it could be a complete coincidence. The authorities are investigating this case.
- Concern that the vaccine can cause COVID-19. This cannot happen because no live SARS-CoV-2 virus is used in vaccines currently available or under development. If a person develops COVID-19 soon after being vaccinated, it is not because of the vaccine. This is either because the vaccine failed (which is rare) or because an infection developed before the vaccine had a chance to work. In fact, some people may be infected with the virus by the time they are vaccinated.
The final result
So far we know that COVID-19 is an unpredictable and potentially fatal disease. The information we have about the effectiveness and safety of COVID-19 vaccinations is encouraging. Minor side effects are to be expected; Severe allergic reactions can rarely occur. Vaccine side effects are not a reason for most people to avoid vaccination.
As the number of vaccine recipients and the number of different vaccines increases, vigilance is required. What we know today about side effects and safety won’t be the last word. Clinical trial volunteers and members of the public who have received vaccinations will continue to be monitored and encouraged to report issues.
Every new medical treatment has advantages and disadvantages. But remember, there are advantages and disadvantages too declining Treatment. Based on my reading of the information currently available, the decision to be vaccinated against COVID-19 should be an easy one.
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